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February 7, 2015 3:01 AM   Subscribe

It’s a question where the obvious answer is the right one – new audiences live there. Just as Tumblr is more diverse than the Internet as a whole, so comics fandom on Tumblr is more diverse than comics fandom on IGN or CBR or Newsarama. It’s younger, queerer, more racially diverse and most obviously a lot more female – and those voices lead the conversation, they don’t constantly have to fight to win a place on it. It’s also – perhaps anecdotally, perhaps not – newer to comics.
Tom Ewing looks at the (critical) success of Marvel series like Young Avengers and how it's reaching a new audience, the Tumblr generation looking for "social justice and feels".

Meanwhile the AV Club's Oliver Sava looks at perhaps the most influential comic of this new generation, Ms. Marvel
It’s rare enough to get a superhero story headlined by a teenage girl, but Ms. Marvel stands out even more because of its focus on religion. And it’s not because Kamala is Muslim; it’s because her connection to religion is a major part of her narrative at all. Islam doesn’t define her, but it greatly influences her behavior and decision-making, adding tension to her life that doesn’t come from a more traditional source like a romantic interest or masked supervillain.
posted by MartinWisse (27 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
 
I follow a pretty wide cross-section of people on Tumblr, and Ms Marvel is probably the comic I see excepts from most often, followed by other Marvel titles like Hawkguy and the various Avengers tie-ins. The sequence from DC where Harley and Black Canary are talking about Canary's pregnancy and Harley's daughter has been doing the rounds again lately.

I couldn't be more pleased that there's a market for this kind of storytelling; I'm much more interested in that than the freewheeling tedium DC was peddling last time I picked up one of their books.
posted by these are science wands at 4:16 AM on February 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


Oh GOD I am sick of hearing that Young Avengers was "pandering" to Tumblr. As if mainstream comics hadn't been stagnating for decades in wish fulfillment fantasies for young, angry men. The sky is falling as soon as we start creating media with anything besides them and their gratification at the forefront of our minds.
posted by almostmanda at 4:56 AM on February 7, 2015 [38 favorites]


Remember, making media that might possibly appeal to women or non-white, non-straight and/or non-cis people is pandering. Media where all the viewpoint characters are straight white cis guys is just "knowing your audience."
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 5:22 AM on February 7, 2015 [36 favorites]


Timely post, considering that yesterday Marvel announced the creation of a new all-female Avengers team.

Also, and this is only tangentially related to the FPP, but the Ms. Marvel article name-dropped Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, and if any of you aren't reading it you 100% should, it is so good.
posted by Itaxpica at 5:29 AM on February 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


Itaxpica: "the Ms. Marvel article name-dropped Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, and if any of you aren't reading it you 100% should, it is so good."

It really is good. Here's a preview for anyone who might be interested.
posted by these are science wands at 5:33 AM on February 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Absolutely what I love about Marvel right now.

(What I don't love: all the fucking crossovers)

DC's recent efforts to imitate this after a couple of years of Nu52 grimdark are super interesting too - not least because as mentioned Marvel's new interest in a diverse range of characters hasn't quite been matches by using a diverse range of creators and DC seems to be really going for that.*

* for a value of comics.
posted by Artw at 6:26 AM on February 7, 2015


For some reason DC reversed all the good things they did with Batwoman, too.
posted by these are science wands at 6:35 AM on February 7, 2015


Yup, that was peak DC editorial stupidity. They seem to have pulled around from that considerably with Gotham Academy and other Bat-line stuff recently though.
posted by Artw at 6:53 AM on February 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


A little low key compared with some of yesterday's announcements but possibly one of the more important ones: Sana Amanat promoted to Director of Content & Character Development at Marvel
posted by Artw at 7:18 AM on February 7, 2015


This post makes me appreciate how much Tumblr loves/mourns with me the newest incarnation of the New Warriors, which was recently canceled. On a team of nine, four are characters of color,
four are women (three women of color, one disabled WOC), and one is Uncle Grumpy Spider Kaine. All in a fun, light-hearted ensemble book. At least I still have Tumblr fanart to comfort me.
posted by nicebookrack at 7:31 AM on February 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Just as Tumblr is more diverse than the Internet as a whole, so comics fandom on Tumblr is more diverse than comics fandom on IGN or CBR or Newsarama

The korrasami tag on tumblr is a place where this actively occurs.
posted by Fizz at 8:14 AM on February 7, 2015


Tumblr is more diverse than the Internet as a whole

This made me realize that "more diverse" to me means "having more kinds of things" (which makes this phrase ridiculous, like claiming Tumblr is bigger than the Internet). But obviously the meaning here is that "more diverse" refers to a greater prevalence of variety.

I think that's probably a common mistake. A group that's 90% American with the remaining 10% from 12 different countries is, in some important ways, less diverse than a group that is 50% American, 30% Mexican, and 20% Korean.
posted by straight at 9:17 AM on February 7, 2015


A group that's 90% American with the remaining 10% from 12 different countries is, in some important ways, less diverse than a group that is 50% American, 30% Mexican, and 20% Korean.

Perhaps, but perhaps not. It depends on the characteristics of the people, not their nationality per se. There's a lot of demographic variety in America.
posted by clockzero at 9:23 AM on February 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


I argued after the end of Young Avengers’ precursor series, Journey Into Mystery, that Marvel’s original strength was built on leapfrogging the kids to attract a new, smart, post-teenage audience back in the 60s, and that now they needed to do the same thing in reverse: leapfrog the long-term fans to win that same audience back. But that new audience looks very different now.
But in some ways the approach is the same. Early Marvel had a version of the 'soft momentism' the author mentions. It's probably not coincidental that when I describe Ms. Marvel to people I compare her to early Spider-Man. (It also explains why this nearly-sterotypical comics reader is mostly following books about young women these days.)
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:39 AM on February 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Marvel has done a good job lately of keeping their continuity-heavy brooding crossover events while also having books that are fun, diverse, and funny. DC seems to be slowly getting that not all readers want endless crossovers, but they still haven't realized how important it is for books to be fun.
posted by sleeping bear at 9:59 AM on February 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


(It also explains why this nearly-sterotypical comics reader is mostly following books about young women these days.)

Pretty much every comic that holds any interest for me follows women as the protagonists: Ms. Marvel, She-Hulk, Captain Marvel, Black Widow, Rat Queens. (Again, if you like comics and you're not reading Rat Queens, you're basically hurting yourself and you should rectify that immediately.) The writing is solid on all those titles, I love the characters...but in addition to that, those Marvel titles largely dodge the big event tentpole bullshit that Marvel keeps pulling.

I have to imagine they keep doing the huge crossovers because they demonstrably sell better, but ugh, I'm so sick of seeing heroes fight each other. No interest at all.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:10 AM on February 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Its also exhilarating to discover the interwebs have spread and matured so well over the past couple of decades that one can 'mute' the mainstream and never miss it. The Internet is far vaster than even the OP imagines in the first section of pull quote.

Thanks for this post.
posted by infini at 10:17 AM on February 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


scaryblackdeath: "Again, if you like comics and you're not reading Rat Queens, you're basically hurting yourself and you should rectify that immediately."

I've been sitting on Rat Queens for months, and I think this thread might be the encouragement I need to crack it open.

I'm not ashamed to admit the reason it caught my eye is that one of the characters on the cover of issue one is basically in Rose Lalonde cosplay

okay, I'm a little ashamed
posted by these are science wands at 10:32 AM on February 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


I've been meaning to pick up Rat Queens for a while too, and my only hesitation now is uncertainty whether Roc Upchurch would still get any of my money after his arrest. (And that's why I stalk the used GNs section of my local Hastings!)
posted by nicebookrack at 11:39 AM on February 7, 2015


That's an interesting question- aren't comics generally work-for-hire?
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:52 AM on February 7, 2015


That's an interesting question- aren't comics generally work-for-hire?

Image is different in that the idea behind image is that the artist/writers own their work. But I don't know how that works practically - I do know that Roc Upchurch has been replaced.

Just as Tumblr is more diverse than the Internet as a whole, so comics fandom on Tumblr is more diverse than comics fandom on IGN or CBR or Newsarama

The korrasami tag on tumblr is a place where this actively occurs.


So, hilariously, the Korrasami tag shows up as a related tag in the Kate Bishop/America Chavez ship tag (Amerikate). And the character designs/concepts for the two pairs aren't all that different, either.

DC has also just announced that they're going after a wider audience, though it's not very clear what that means. I actually have hopes, though. That's new.
posted by dinty_moore at 12:19 PM on February 7, 2015


This made me realize that "more diverse" to me means "having more kinds of things" (which makes this phrase ridiculous, like claiming Tumblr is bigger than the Internet). But obviously the meaning here is that "more diverse" refers to a greater prevalence of variety.

To be a completely silly nerd, I think what you're saying with that second meaning is actually closer to how ecologists and demographers define "diversity", which depends on not just how many different types are present but also on how even their relative proportions are. "Richness" is the term ecologists would use to refer to your first concept. Of course, as you say, both measures depend a lot on what you're counting as distinct "types". Anyway, this concludes this mostly irrelevant factoid.
posted by en forme de poire at 12:35 PM on February 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


I've been meaning to pick up Rat Queens for a while too, and my only hesitation now is uncertainty whether Roc Upchurch would still get any of my money after his arrest.

I can't speak for whether he'll be getting money from ongoing sales or not, but the rest of the staff has 100% dropped him like a hot potato (and given statements to that effect). They've got a new artist with a completely new style, now, and they seem to be very consciously trying to make a clean break.
posted by Itaxpica at 12:54 PM on February 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


I've been meaning to pick up Rat Queens for a while too, and my only hesitation now is uncertainty whether Roc Upchurch would still get any of my money after his arrest.

Image lists Kurtis Wiebe as the only creator, and they haven't completely erased Upchurch from history, so he certainly won't be getting any money from future RQs. No idea whether he gets any residuals or whatever from the work he already did.
posted by Etrigan at 1:33 PM on February 7, 2015


I'm not ashamed to admit the reason it caught my eye is that one of the characters on the cover of issue one is basically in Rose Lalonde cosplay

hmmmmmmm
posted by kenko at 1:35 PM on February 7, 2015


No idea whether he gets any residuals or whatever from the work he already did

Yeah, just in case I'll probably buy the post-Upchurch issues/trades new and get the early Upchurch issues/trades either used or illicitly.
posted by nicebookrack at 2:36 PM on February 7, 2015


I heard the new artist on Rat Queens is going to be the excellent Stjepan Sejic, whose comic "Death Vigil" I'm currently loving.
posted by Pallas Athena at 4:20 PM on February 7, 2015


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