#WeAreComics: Celebrating The Comic Book Medium And Community
If you’re reading this site, you probably love comic books — but many of you may wonder how much it loves you back. For an industry that’s already niche, American comics has seemed oddly willing to narrow its audience. For a medium that prides itself on community, American comics has been quick to close its doors. For an artform that can show readers anything, American comics has seemed content to show us the familiar.
To the outside world, the comic fan fits a certain type. We’re so used to the idea that comics favours an audience of heterosexual white men that we sometimes forget that we are comics, and that’s not who we are. Collectively, we’re so much more than that. It’s as a reminder of that fact that the new Tumblr blog We Are Comics exists.
Writer, editor, and ComicsAlliance contributor Rachel Edidin came up with the idea for We Are Comics as a response to the harassment of another writer, editor and ComicsAlliance contributor, Janelle Asselin.
As we reported here previously, Asselin was sent rape threats after her critique of a comic book cover. Not a dream, not a what-if, not an imaginary story; rape threats for critiquing a comic book cover that some men liked. There ought not be even one person in the world so small, hateful and vile that they think this is acceptable, but in comics there’s an entire culture of this kind of behaviour.
As Edidin told Fanboy Comics, one of the hateful comment sent to Asselin really stuck with her; a comment that claimed, “Women in comics are the deviation, the invading body, the cancer. We are the cure, the norm, the natural order.”
Edidin teamed up with Arturo Garcia, Sigrid Ellis, Elle Collins and Jen Vaughn to create We Are Comics and send a different message. The Tumblr is dedicated to showcasing the diversity of the comic community among fans and professionals alike. Readers and creators are invited to post a picture of themselves with the message “I am comics” or “We are comics”, and they are encouraged to include a testimonial about their relationship to comics.
In the past few days the site has posted dozens of submissions from passionate comic fans inside and outside the industry, and their voices and faces present a very different image of the industry than the one we’ve come to accept as true. The project brings men and women, parents and children, people of color, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, and people from around the world in a show of solidarity. It’s a wonderful and affirming demonstration of the real community behind comics.
Contributors thus far include Arielle, whose love of Batman helped her through her Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis; Christianne, who made her own comics while coming to accept her trans identity; Alison, who returned to comics after a twenty year break and is now a published Image creator; Joe, whose love of the X-Men inspired him to create one of the first LGBT superhero comics; Olivia, who wants to teach her sons the values of her favorite heroes; Stephanie, a cosplayer looking for the courage to cosplay as comics characters; Jamal, who came to comics through the 1978 Superman movie and wants to pass on his love of the medium to his daughter; and Liz, whose therapist reached out to her eight-year-old self with Swamp Thing back-issues.
There are straight white men on the site as well. Readers and creators who fit that demographic sweet spot of straight white men aged 18-39 are welcome to contribute to the project, though a statement of solidarity goes a long way towards showing that they embrace the “We Are Comics” spirit. Stating one’s support for diversity seems like a pretty low bar to entry. (And it’s not even a bar to entry!)
Whatever else you do, you should follow We Are Comics on Tumblr. It’s a welcome reminder of the best the comic community has to offer. These people are not a deviation from the norm. These people are comics.