Scott McCloud believes that minority representation in comics is even more important than the issue of gender balance (McCloud, 2000). He goes on to say that only those who are a part of a minority have the best first-hand experience at representing and portraying those minorities in comics. While this is a worthwhile statement, it may be unreasonable to link a lack of minority representation in comics to the lack of writers within a specific minority group. There simply may not be a large interest within those groups to write about these specific issues.
But comics, as well as many genre’s of media, have treated minorities as “tokens”, in that they are often added to a comic to give the appearance of diversity without actually making them central figures to a story or comic of its own. One of the most popular comic book series, X-Men, has been said to be a metaphor for the civil rights movement; mutants who are “different” from the rest of society, persecuted and mis-understood. Yet it is within X-Men that one of the most popular and beloved minority figures emerged, Storm. She made her first appearance in 1975 and is one of the very first black female characters to be introduced in mainstream comics.
These days, Web 2.0 and social media has provided fertile ground for powerful works such as Michael Em’s comic of Kelly Thomas, a homeless schizophrenic. Additionally, I’ve looked at four other comic talents who strive for minority representation in their comics.
Brian Wood, who writes “Channel Zero” and “DMZ”, revolve around fictional activist revolutions. And “The Massive”, about environmental activists.
Molly Crabapple writes on such topics such as the Occupy movement. She has published work in the “Art of Molly Crabapple” series, and the “Girl Comics” series with Marvel. She writes about everyday people and their lives such as her portrayal of those living through the Syrian Civil War.
Steve Orlando, a writer who assisted DC comics in the resurrection of “Midnight”, is keeping gay men in the niche world of comics grounded, current, and real.
And finally Joshua Dysart, author of the “Violent Messiahs” comic series, as well as many others. Who also writes about the Unknown Soldier character, which portrays a pacifist and his crusade against the horrors of war-torn Uganda.
DC Comics admits to the lack of diversity in its publications and states it is an industry-wide problem. Yet it has seen an increase of people from difference racial background interested in minority content.