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Comics Debate & Discourse: How To Be a Hero By Being An Ally

by  in Comic News Comment
Comics Debate & Discourse: How To Be a Hero By Being An Ally

Responding vs Reacting

Don’t Dismiss 

One of the most troubling things I see in these recent arguments is people attacking the experiences that inform other people’s point of view. Are words like ‘triggering’ and ‘pandering’ and ‘problematic’ overused? Sometimes, yeah, they are. That doesn’t change the fact that there are real people with real concerns behind those words. Never been raped? Never been the target of racism or hate-speak? Never lived with a mental illness? That’s incredibly fortunate, because a lot of people have, and from time to time, they will need the help of their chosen community to thrive. 

Dismissing these experiences does not make them go away, it simply reinforces stigma about the worth of the survivors. Stating that these experiences don’t entitle anyone to dictate what happens in comics just isn’t true — these people are creators. They are readers. They are editors and journalists and cosplayers. They deserve compassion, and they deserve to have a strong voice. They don’t deserve to be treated as though whatever they’re living with isn’t important, or can disappear simply because they should get over it. Not every comic is going to be for every person, but we need more that aren’t isolating large factions and perpetuating a hostile environment.  

Be An Ally

It’s Really, Really Not About You 

I mean this in a very loving way — when people call out comics for feeding into a culture primarily for and of straight white men, what they are saying is that they hope for a place where they can also be recognized. This is about inclusion, not about shaming you for already having a home. No one wants to take anything away from you. 

There isn’t a finite supply of joy in comics. It’s endless, and it belongs to all of us. But some haven’t had as many opportunities as others to experience it. We want to see ourselves in books — not as a prop, not as a thing to be saved or slept with, and not as a victim. We want comics that speak to our own experiences and the strength we know we have without being reduced to a two-dimensional “strong female character.” That’s it!

Your presence here, straight white men, is wonderful! And we all should be able to talk about how to make more room for other people without anyone being attacked. 

Comics have a legacy of being a place for people who don’t see how they fit in with other parts of society. My deepest fear is that if this acrimony continues, we will ruin what makes us special. So before that happens, let’s all take a deep breath and think about what we love about this world: creativity, passion, humor, endurance and bravery. How can we be more like the heroes of the books that brought us together? We can start by being really fucking good to each other. 

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