BHM: God bless the child.

As much as I love Idie, she isn’t ours. Luke isn’t ours. David isn’t ours. T’challa isn’t ours. Miles. Isn’t. Ours. Yes, they look like the men, women, and children in our lives, at our tables, and on our minds—and that is important—but they do not carry our voice. There are no black writers working on mainstream comics at DC. There are no black writers at Marvel at all. In the DC universe and in the Marvel universe, black people are voiceless. It is what it is.

I wish I could say I was concerned. At one point, I was very concerned. However, over time that apprehension has dwindled like sales of the books from the companies in question. Black people are voiceless at two companies that struggle to sell a hundred thousand copies of a single comic to a potential audience of billions. Black people are voiceless at two companies currently being admonished in the press for stifling their creative staff, submitting production and editorial to poor working conditions, and utilizing underhanded practices to swindle individuals out of their creations or proper compensation. DC and Marvel are no longer happy, hale and hearty IP farms where a man or woman could spend a lifetime spinning stories about established characters while earning a check that could provide for the family and benefits to keep that same family healthy and whole. Those days are over—and were only enjoyed by a select few to begin with. When white voices are being silenced, can we truly expect black voices to be heard? When white writers are losing exclusive contracts that once provided them with much needed safety nets, can we really expect those same contracts to be offered to black peers?

The pie is gone. It has been gone since the late ‘90s, continually consumed and regurgitated by the same small handful, and there is nothing left to get a piece of. You are not going to George Jefferson off Stan, Jerry, Joe, and Jack, my friends, hence the title of this blog post.

Tabu referred to Image as a black writer’s last refuge. I’d alter that statement to include Kickstarter, other self-publishing methods, and independent publishers in general. However, the gist of the message is the same—“Have one’s own.”

I certainly don’t advise turning down paid work from DC or Marvel, but one cannot put faith in either company. When they call concerning that rare miniseries featuring a tepidly-received black character, get in, do one’s work, and get out. And don’t expect them to call again soon, no matter having provided them with one’s best work. A black writer is a rare necessity at DC and Marvel—especially now that established white writers are only too happy to take on projects featuring black characters. Green is an important color that can make a third-tier black sidekick seem quite interesting to those who once looked for whiter pastures.

The entertainment industry is an exceptional industry where one is able to own the company where one produces. Man is the farm and factory. The assembly line is composed of a writer’s fingers; his products, miniaturized worlds, are shipped to all four corners of the globe to be quickly devoured by eager audiences.

A writer can work on decorating delicacies from someone else’s assembly line—i.e., contract work—and there’s no need to feel an ounce of shame in doing so. It’s an honest (and fun) job. But without steady work and benefits—and black writers are not being provided these things—what is the point? To finally tell that Luke Cage story? Oh, sugar. I love Luke, but I’d rather be in for a World of Hurt if that’s all Marvel has to offer.

Aside from looking over one’s shoulder to peer down at the foundation of Kirby Inc., there’s nothing being presented at Marvel and DC that is unique to either organization. And the man who laid the foundation? I think he would have preferred to see a few more crates from one-man farms.

Isaiah is ours. Aya is ours. Miranda is ours—from the root to the fruit. These characters bear our features, carry our voices, entertain us, and—most importantly—provide for our welfare spiritually and financially. And I can think of nothing more delicious than that.

BHM: Days of future past.

I want to honor our legacy, to cultivate long, lovingly detailed posts on the black cartoonists and writers of the past who paved the way for all, but I simply cannot focus. I’m obsessed with the present. I’m obsessed with our future.

And so Ormes and Harrington give way to Ayo and Bernardin. What are we creating this very moment? What are we adding to the pot? After all, a thriving culture is like gumbo, simmering for eons, with each new generation adding fresh ingredients to enhance the flavor of what came before.

Black History Month? Well, that’s generally a whole lot of pot stirring. It’s an examination of what we have inherited and a chance to sample the fruits of our ancestors’ labor. And, oh my, is that important. But it’s damn sure not the only reason why we are in the kitchen. We aren’t children. We don’t get to snatch what we want from the pot, fill our bellies, and then bolt from the room. We’re here to cook, baby—to make something. And making something is not simply warming up leftovers, no matter how tasty they may be.

And I feel very much as if we are in a “microwave moment” in regards to our music, our literature, and our art. I don’t want to spend this month making a quick mental note of the doors opened by Matt Baker while using the opportunity he provided to simply regurgitate the work of Stan and Jack. That’s not why we were given seats at certain tables. Black History Month is wonderful. But the best thing about our history is that it’s not going anywhere. It’ll be there for us whenever we need it. But the present? That can slip through our hands like water if we don’t pay attention—water that can thin the “gumbo” and dilute its flavor.

So, for the next twenty-eight days, I propose we kick off a celebration of Black Present Month by gifting ourselves with wonderful creations by inspired artists and writers currently putting pen to paper and digit to keyboard. What’s out there now that we can pluck from the shelves or add to our feeds? And for those of us who feel the drive to create as well as consume? Well, a Black Future Month is in order. The pot’s waiting.

Who should we have considered? Who should we have hired?

Sans snarky tone, these are valid questions that one ill-informed about what takes place outside of his small social and professional circle should ask. Editors should interact with consumers in order to remain aware of industry trends and to gain insight into areas they know nothing about (in the case of DC’s editorial staff, how to reach out to female and minority consumers and add a healthy dose of diversity to their current creative bench).

A creator isn’t going to be considered for any position if he has not made himself visible to those in a position to hire him. And in the case of comics, where cronyism abounds and editors are often (1) working with a very small and stable Rolodex and (2) have absolutely no interest in searching for new talent, visibility is difficult to achieve.

And if you are an editor walking that same well-worn path you have always walked when searching for talent, the angry cries from disgruntled fans can be disconcerting and exasperating. Where am I supposed to find these female artists? Where am I supposed to find these minority writers? Do you think I have time to read random scripts when I have two books to put out on time—and one of my artists just had a baby, my star writer is passed out in a bar, and my old industry buddy is complaining about lean times? Please.

But that fan has all the time in the world to venture off the beaten path. And she has discovered amazing creators who are producing fantastic work. And she can’t comprehend why they are being ignored.

I can. That editor and that fan? They visit different tables at conventions. They attend different parties. They read different websites. They follow different people on Twitter. Same industry, different worlds. And the majority of female and minority creators? They aren’t chilling in the one that EICs and CFOs inhabit.

But that doesn’t provide an answer to the question of the day. You say you want more black writers, so who should we have considered?

This is in no way a complete list of black writers! There are so many others out there creating! However, these are the men and women found on the path that I walk. These are the names from my bookshelves and feeds—established, professional, capable of producing quality work, and well aware of how the comics industry works.

There’s my answer. I’m sure there are many others who would be happy to provide you with theirs. All you have to do is ask.

Lock and key.

I’ve spent some time sifting through this ol’ blog, cleaning up dead links and correcting stray typos. Probably the most depressing part of the whole process is the realization that many of my older—and cynical—predictions regarding the current state of the industry have come to be:

“Of course, I still think Ultimate Spider-Man is going to sell well. The character has enough company support and calculated marketing to make up for the casual racism of some readers. Remember when I said that Marvel should blatantly push the characters that DC ignores? It’s happening. And Marvel’s doing a pretty good job of it too. There’s no way any book featuring a brand new black and Latino teen character should outsell Static Shock. Static has years of history and a very successful cartoon under his belt. But Miles? Well, Miles has the power of the Spider-Man franchise and blisteringly hot creators as a sales anchor. Miles is popping up in news articles all over the place. Miles will have guest appearances in popular Marvel books. And Miles is going to make more money than Virgil and Jaime—all while wearing Peter’s hand-me-downs. I think Miles is adorable, but that doesn’t sit completely right with me.”Cheryl Lynn Eaton

Know what else doesn’t sit right with me? That the sole remaining black male character with a solo title at DC is currently wearing Batman’s hand-me-downs. And is a subordinate. It is frustrating that minority heroes who are their own men, who do not depend on older white heroes for their inspiration, attire, or methods, are simply shunned by readers. And publishers are well aware of this, resulting in these characters receiving poor promotion, the occasional green or lackluster creative team, and a very limited timeframe to “prove” oneself before the onset of cancellation. Better to push that minority character draped in a web, “S,” or bat-symbol. After all, that’s what the readers want. That’s where the money is. And so that’s where the USA Today articles, publisher support, and the established white creative team (who will gladly exercise any and all “first dibs” rights to obtain a successful franchise) will be too.

Because that black writer—be he talented or a hack, experienced or a newcomer, beloved by fans or an internet pariah—is only called when there is a title featuring a black male lead on the table. And only when the title on the table is one that no one else wants. And so black writers get funneled into books that are quickly shunned by fans, cancelled, and forgotten. And the creators are forgotten just as quickly.

Nobody is asking for a hand out. No one desires a quota. All I am asking for is for established black writers to have equal access to be considered. This is not happening. They are only being considered for a small number of books that have long proven to be received poorly by an increasingly shrinking market that refuses all that is different from what has come before.

Equal access. When Luke Cage is on the table. Or Nightwing. Power Girl. Or Shang Chi. Or Batman. That’s it.

Last hired, first fired.

Today I learned of the cancellations of Mr. Terrific, Static Shock, and Black Panther: The Most Dangerous Man Alive (late to the party, I know), and the departures of Marc Bernardin and Eric Wallace from DC’s staff of writers. I jokingly referred to it as “Official Black People Pink Slip Day” in comics along with providing a couple of mildly snarky comments about the timing of the news.

“We wanted to make sure we got rid of all the black writers and solo titles before February. That would have been sooooooo awkward.”Cheryl Lynn Eaton

I’m not as angry as I would have been in the past because we’ve been around this block before. But I am disappointed. I’m disappointed that DC didn’t take the careful time and planning needed to create a successful launch of these books and characters from jump. I’m disappointed that Green Arrow is rewarded with Ann Nocenti after performing poorly and Mr. Terrific gets a pink slip instead of Priest. It shows a lack of faith and a lack of concern. And the constant fumbling of what should be clear and easy decisions regarding launches, sales, and marketing is just frustrating.

“And the fact that DC has cancelled Static Shock and will push a Ravagers book instead of Gen 13 is just such a boneheaded move. Static and Blue Beetle should have never started out in solo titles. They should have been part of a group book from jump to build a base. And that base should have been Gen 13, which still has name recognition a decade later. To be fair, I would have cancelled all of those books but Mr. Terrific and Men of War or Blackhawks. The two I kept would be retooled. The four books I would have added to the DC lineup would have been Gen 13, Huntress (w/Cass as the Nu52 Huntress), Lobo…and Wildcats. I don’t give a damn. I love Wildcats and I’m armchair editor here, damn it.”Cheryl Lynn Eaton

Brandon Graham and I went on to develop the best Gen 13 series you’ll never get to read on Twitter this morning. Brandon and Adam Warren switch off writing duties, Emma Rios draws it, and I edit. It’s amazing and it will never exist. Sorry about that, folks. And I’ve changed my mind about the Huntress book now that I’ve realized that The Ray isn’t an ongoing—and clearly should be. Plus, the Huntress is in my imaginary Gen 13 book, which—again—is amazing.

But I’m being silly. And I shouldn’t—not completely. Because in regards to black writers receiving paid work in comics, the industry is actually regressing. A degradation is occurring as opposed to simple stagnation. And this concerns me far more than the loss of solo titles featuring black characters, especially when those characters will receive major panel time in popular team books. (If Black Panther doesn’t take a leading role in an Avengers title, I will be extremely surprised.)

If not for the wonder of self-publishing, we’d be looking at the slow silencing of the voice of an entire group. I believe we are currently down to one black writer receiving paid work in the industry, though I would be positively ecstatic to be proven wrong. Please drop me an email, if so. If not? Tread carefully, Mr. Hinds. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. With the loss of McDuffie, I cannot think of one black person in a position of power in this industry. Yes, we all have power over our own creations, but that is not akin to the type of power held by those who can launch successful lines and create multiple jobs, or who can influence large numbers within multiple industries. Do comic companies even realize how many talented black men and women are slipping through their fingers? How many are simply drifting to advertising, television, music, etc.? Do they even care? Eh, not likely.

Given the option of self-publishing, I wouldn’t care either, but many black creators simply do not have the funds to take that route (nor the option to become Kickstarter successes in an industry filled with fans that can be…difficult in regards to certain projects).

There is no way one can point to low sales as the reason for the lack of diversity in regards to black writers. An Avengers title written by Priest would sell. Detective Comics is being written by a Latino guy right now! You know how well that book is selling? Insanely well. And Batgirl certainly hasn’t suffered from Gail Simone’s estrogen levels. That book is snagging accolades left and right. So why the dearth of black writers? What’s the problem? Seriously, why is this still a problem? And why is the problem getting worse?

And we’re back.

I spend entirely too much time discussing comics on Twitter. I tend to cycle between different forms of communication—texting, tweeting, blogging, writing letters, posting on message boards—depending on what form gives me access to the largest amount of acquaintances at a certain time. Twitter definitely wins out more often than not. And sadly, the blog withers.

But not today! Today, The Beat made the announcement that DC will be offering ten-page back-up stories in certain books. These books will feature a higher price tag of $3.99. Jaded fan that I am, I immediately recalled WildStorm’s price hike to $2.50 after adding eight-page back-up features in certain issues. The features soon disappeared; the price remained.

In the case of DC’s new venture, these features will not showcase new creators or new characters and will deal with material that ties directly to the current story. Why can’t this new material simply be part of the central story arc? Did page length and price really need to be altered? Is this simply a slight of hand to bump up cover prices down the line and shine a spotlight on Marvel’s more expensive prices ($3.99 for 32 pages) for a momentary marketing boon? I hope not. Still, I must admit that such tactics have worked before in the past and will likely work again in the future. Ease fans into the idea of the back-ups by using creators they are already fond of; make sure to mention that the deal being offered provides more content than the nearest competitor provides; and finally, make fans feel that the back-ups are truly central to the main story.

Once fans have become accustomed to the idea? Start making changes. Introduce new creative teams that you hope to build your new hit properties from. Once fans warm to your new tribe of creators, change the subject matter. Use back-ups to launch new characters or inject lifeblood into older properties. After all, a blood transfusion from Batman can go a long way.

But I’m being a bit mercenary, aren’t I? Looking at a small number of my Twitter comments from today, I’d say so:

“Anyway, since I’m all about the underdog, I’m more concerned with how Dark Horse and Image can compete on DC and Marvel’s level. And before anyone gets snippy, I’m not talking about quality; I’m talking about being able to sell ‘The Fandom Experience.’ DC and Marvel aren’t just selling books, they’re selling communities. How can Image and Dark Horse build a community and culture—especially when these are things that are supposed to develop naturally and cannot be created by companies?

“I suppose Image and Dark Horse could get those communities quickly in the short term by stealing from developed ones in other genres. But, (very important) you have to have a community that likes to read. You do a comic about a fratboy shooter and it’s not going to help you. Questions to ask: Have multiple communities with different flavors developed around this brand? Is fanfiction being created? Does the brand already have material that would directly compete with a comic line (paperback novels)? Yes, yes, no? Then you’re good.”Cheryl Lynn Eaton

Dark Horse has followed this model successfully utilizing its Buffy franchise. It also has the wonder that is Hellboy, but seems to care not one whit about developing a community around this brand. How sad. Much like a rental property, these communities can be life-sustaining for a brand during lean times financially and creatively. And Dark Horse has open access to the superhero communities that have built themselves around DC/Marvel, and yet leaves Empowered, an amazing series, out to drift with minimal marketing. This is criminal.

Image has The Walking Dead, but that is merely one book compared to the multiple series and miniseries in the ever-expanding Buffy universe. In regards to The Walking Dead, I don’t think diluting the brand with multiple books is a good idea. If Kirkman has another powerful ongoing story to tell in that world, then that’s fine. Until then, leave that strong workhorse alone.

The Top Cow and Extreme universes, however, can and should be mucked about with. I love the talent being poured into the Extreme universe and wish some of it could be reserved for the Top Cow universe—which could use fresh blood, a good jumping on point, and a large helping of diversity. And I love the way that Top Cow employees are dedicated to developing a universe that fans can feel a part of, and are also concerned with nurturing a community built around its brand and watching it grow. And that’s what Extreme needs. Fans want more than just a comic—especially for $2.99-$3.50. Where can I ask the creator a question? Where can I discuss the plot with other fans? Where can I see takes on these characters by others? These are questions that need answers. The company does not need to provide answers, but if no one is? The comic in question is not likely to sell well.

Still, it’s a new year. Let’s see what the big five decide to do with it.

The Orange Wallpaper.

Sexist depictions in comics will continue to appear because there will continue to be moments when the creators involved will commit to a sexist act. It happens. People are human and are prone to each and every “ism” that has plagued our society for centuries. And each “ism” is promoted and strengthened in the art we consume—for what we are seeps into the art we create, which then seeps back into us as we sit before screens and speakers and leaflets of paper.

Red Hood and the OutsidersThis image, were it just one in a sea of images where women were depicted in myriad ways and from an inexhaustible supply of viewpoints, each getting a similar amount of attention, would not be a problem. This is not a problem of images. This is a problem of access and distribution.

We have a medium where white, straight American men from the ages of 25 to 65 are allowed and encouraged to dominate a market in all aspects save for the consumption of goods. For decades, one particular viewpoint has obliterated all others. One viewpoint has had access to national distribution. One viewpoint has enjoyed access to key editorial and creative positions of power. One viewpoint has been selected to give voice to all people. One race, one gender, one sexuality, and one class has dominated an entire creative medium! We have a method of storytelling where only one type of person is given the power to create stories heard by the masses and told about the masses. This is the problem.

I can count the number of current mainstream writers who are female, non-white, or gay on one hand. Women are crowded into assistant editor positions with no hope of advancement and no power to implement change for fear of severe retribution. We can’t pull other women and minorities up the ranks because we are still tottering on the first rung of the ladder—and the trap door in that glass ceiling is only big enough for one.

The women upset about this image aren’t merely upset that Starfire has been reduced to a vapid, emotionless object for the visual pleasure of men. Fanservice ain’t gonna end the world, folks. Tits happen. However, the repeated promotion and distribution of these images and stories to the masses coupled with the lack of opportunities for women to give voice to their own viewpoints—and more importantly, have those viewpoints seen (shelf space) and heard (PR)—is infuriating. We’re depending on men to tell our stories for us because we are not hired to tell our own. Forgive us for being a little agitated when you use that power to depict us in a way that makes us look like morons. And collect a check and health insurance for it.

Several nationally distributed tales of a white man who is shown to be a slovenly idiot is not going to have negative repercussions for white men because they have the power to refute those images (and do) by bombarding the market with positive images that are also widely seen and heard. Several nationally distributed tales of a black woman who is shown to be a slovenly idiot is going to have negative repercussions for black women because there is only one black woman in a position to refute them and even she does not have the power or money to bombard the market with positive images. So, lo and behold, a stereotype is born decades later and very real women suffer the consequences for it in their personal lives.

We all have our biases. Luckily, bias sans power is toothless. I don’t want these images to go away. I don’t even want to scold those who enjoy them. I just want to strip the power from them.

Fight Starfire with Starfire.

Um, can we talk about this?

“DC Comics seeks a New Talent Administrator-Digital for the Editorial (West Coast) department. Assists the Group Editor-Digital in creation, development and maintenance of DC digital comics. Works with Group Editor-Digital to select and develop New Talent through DC’s online New Talent Search and DC’s own internal new talent development program. Edit special online titles or books as needed.”

One, if I had the money to relocate, I would apply for this job. Two, a new talent search? Three, how come no one loves Oxford commas anymore? This position fascinates me more than any of DC’s fifty-two new comics hitting store shelves this month. I had assumed that DC’s talent pool had been effectively locked into place once the fifty-two creative teams had been hired. For the most part, DC had chosen established creators—those who had experience with DC or its top-level editorial staff. The fact that they are searching for new talent provides me relief, given my concerns regarding the lack of diversity behind the scenes (which is a problem in the comics industry that extends far beyond DC). The fact that larger companies are actually doing the work to seek out and groom new talent instead of relying on Image as a “creator farm” is appealing, especially given the revealing news about how women simply don’t apply to Image. After all, if new talent is plucked from areas where a lack of diversity is an issue, then DC is simply carrying that issue right to its front door.

And can we talk about the fact that DC may (finally) be getting serious about digital comics? And they aren’t the only ones. (I see you, Marvel. And I like what I see. You too, Dark Horse.) Of course, the digital divide may further complications in regards to diversity. Still, a splashy PR-driven donation of e-readers or surplus comics to inner-city schools or libraries near DC offices might help soothe concerns. I’m sure Diane Nelson and Cory Booker could make that happen in two or three tweets.

I am mildly bummed that all of the interesting editorial opportunities seem to be drifting from NYC. Hopefully, they will drift to areas where a diverse selection of people will have the chance to be considered.

Ramblings about DC’s 52.

“You know what would be awesome? If DC had an eight-page weekly comic that was solely digital and ran for free on iTunes for a year. I think it’s a damn good way to get a whole bunch of eyes on your IPs. Plus, it primes those eyes for a regular expectation of DC content. I say DC because DC and Marvel are really the only companies with the money to do that. Or (going into souless company man mode) you make it a talent contest and have the audience vote on eight-page stories. So, you’re getting free content from creators who wish to audition. The entry with the highest rating gets a miniseries deal.”

—Cheryl Lynn Eaton

Please note that my awesome ideas are awesome and should happen immediately. Also, please note that a digital exclusive that costs money will not get one anywhere. People who have never tried comics are not going to start if they have to open up their wallets. They need a regular hit of that free, uncut Batman to get them hooked and into the routine. Man, DC. What the hell are you doing over there?

Also, if the entries are really good? You package those suckers into a couple of graphic novels and make a few bucks off printed trades. It would also be best if the content were serial in nature. Like a soap, strip, or old radio show.

Paper chaser.

Von Allan has written a fabulous article on the obvious. Are comics simply too expensive for the masses to see them as a viable form of entertainment? Yes. Fans have been saying it for quite a while. But it is a surprise to hear the same from professionals. Anyone who has a product to sell is going to emphasize the benefits and minimize or even eliminate all discussion of possible flaws. So to hear these salesmen—and make no mistake, these men and women are salesmen as well as creators and editors—openly admit to inflating sales to ridiculous proportions to compensate for a shrinking audience is a bit mad, isn’t it? If one isn’t going to lower prices, why even bring that up? Shove that unpleasantness in the closet and razzle-dazzle ’em with new costumes and the number one.

I’m not rich. I’m not even middle-class. However, I do have a very small amount that I am able to spend on entertainment, like many of my working-class peers. We have televisions, but no gaming consoles. We have used computers off Craigslist and no tablets in sight. We have library cards and no comics. We have land lines and bills—lots and lots of bills. For me, the goal is to get the most entertainment for the least amount of money. However, I’m not going to consume anything simply because it’s cheap. I’m looking for quality plus quantity for the least amount of money I can spend.

When one make one’s purchases this way, life becomes a waiting game. I buy critically-acclaimed computer games years after they have been released. I picked up Arkham Asylum off Steam not too long ago for five dollars. This provides hours of quality entertainment featuring a superhero that I love. I can pay seventy-five cents an hour to role-play as Batman or I can spend three dollars to read a story about Batman in five minutes. No contest. I want the most bang for my buck.

However, unlike most of my working-class peers, I do buy comics. Well, I buy trades. Close enough, right? I’m the one rifling through the five-dollar rack at comic conventions. You paid $17.95 for that B.P.R.D. trade? I snagged three B.P.R.D. trades for $15.00. You got to read a story way before me? Yeah, I couldn’t really care less about that. I’m too busy over here saving money.

I’ve changed more than the format. I’ve also reduced the amount I buy as well as the type of comic I buy. I don’t buy superhero comics anymore. There’s no point. I can keep up with the canon for free via Scans Daily (which I’ve actually been doing less and less) and enjoy quality superhero stories via video games and movies. I do plan on picking up the first Mister Terrific and Voodoo trades if the first few pages intrigue me. But I doubt either story will be wading through many superhero tropes.

I have a slightly off-topic interjection here. DC and Marvel should really find some way to steal traffic from Scans Daily and comic news sites. Those hits could put a few advertising dollars in DC and Marvel wallets. And a few dollars are better than none. Make them come to DC or Marvel websites to view and talk about the five pages you’ve released. Give fans a free, unmoderated area to socialize around your content. No hoops to jump through or accounts to create. Slap some ad space and a disclaimer off to the side and walk away.

But, uh, back to the lecture at hand. What’s the point of this post? I’m thinking as I type, so please bear with me a moment. I started off with three posts which seem to be folding themselves into one. The three topics I wanted to address? I wanted to discuss how the exorbitant price of comics has drastically altered my buying habits. I also wanted to mention my desire for a Gen 13 comic featuring Static, Blue Beetle, and a very popular teen character to give readers who ignored Static and Blue Beetle previously the chance to “warm up” to these characters via a team book with a popular sales anchor. Finally, I wanted to express my fear that the upcoming books from DC featuring minority heroes will not sell well, resulting in DC yanking these books from its lineup and retreating from the idea of including minority characters within its titles.

I think the fear is warranted. Americans as a whole have less than we used to. Americans who are brown? Well, we have even less than that. And if Chris Stokowski, a middle-management man and a die-hard comics fan from Pittsburgh isn’t buying comics like he used to? Well, Devontae Evans, a high-school kid who works Saturdays and Sundays at Foot Locker, damn sure isn’t going to start picking them up. Not when they cost three or four bucks. And when Chris is over at Newsarama complaining about how there’s no need for a black Spider-Man and this PC nonsense is just getting out of control? It’s not farfetched that sales featuring minority characters might be meager and comic companies might decide that integration and diversity are no longer priorities. Minority characters will once again be reduced to background shots in team books. Minority creators will not be hired.

Of course, I still think Ultimate Spider-Man is going to sell well. The character has enough company support and calculated marketing to make up for the casual racism of some readers. Remember when I said that Marvel should blatantly push the characters that DC ignores? It’s happening. And Marvel’s doing a pretty good job of it too. There’s no way any book featuring a brand new black and Latino teen character should outsell Static Shock. Static has years of history and a very successful cartoon under his belt. But Miles? Well, Miles has the power of the Spider-Man franchise and blisteringly hot creators as a sales anchor. Miles is popping up in news articles all over the place. Miles will have guest appearances in popular Marvel books. And Miles is going to make more money than Virgil and Jaime—all while wearing Peter’s hand-me-downs. I think Miles is adorable, but that doesn’t sit completely right with me. Regardless, it’s going to happen. DC will simply toss Jaime and Virgil into the solo waters to sink or swim. Marvel’s hauled out the Coast Guard. Yes, DC is going to obliterate Marvel with its higher level launches, but if I were a DC rep I’d still take the time to start nipping this kind of lower-level ish in the bud right now. I mean, isn’t this how Marvel gained its foothold in regards to diversity in the first place? By actively supporting the type of minority characters that were languishing at DC? And now they have a nice little roster of second-tier IPs to make money from in the future. Well, the future is now.

Actually? The future was the past.

L. A. Banks has passed.

Her passing hurts because in general it hurts to lose anyone who was genuinely a good person—and Esdaile was. But while she was loved and wanted by her family, her friends, her fans, and her peers, she was also desperately needed to bolster a gradually fading voice for a group seen but not heard.

Black women writers are fading from view. Robinson, Henderson, and now Banks. According to my notes there is currently one black woman writer working for a comics publisher. Anywhere. Not just the big two. Not just American publishers. Anywhere.

Please tell me I’m wrong. That’s not a dare or me being snarky. I desperately want to be wrong. Please, if there is someone I have forgotten, let me know! I need to know.

First round’s on me.

“Also, nerds, are there any other currently working black female writers aside from Abouet, Henderson, Banks (who has passed) and Robinson? Wait, does Robinson still have a job? Wait, does Henderson still have a job? I think there might actually be only one black woman writer working in all of comics publishing right now.”

—Cheryl Lynn Eaton

I’m gonna go get a drink.

All mail review.

I really wish comic book websites came with personalized email reminders. What do I mean? Say you’re surfing a site and come across copy for an upcoming book that interests you. The only problem is that the book won’t be published for another two months and you won’t remember to purchase it because you no longer buy your books from comic shops. Nope, no more happening across something interesting on the shelf for you!

That’s where the personalized email reminder comes in. Simply click a little heart located next to the copy. A text box pops up asking if you’d like Company X to send you an email reminder the week the book drops. Click yes, enter your email address, and get a nice friendly message when the book—and only that book—ships. No spam. No monthly newsletter. Just a simple note to remind you that the book you wanted is available for purchase—and a link to where you can purchase it online.

See, if Marvel had that, I wouldn’t have missed picking up the first issue of that new Claws miniseries. But I did. And I’m too lazy to hunt it down. I guess I’ll be waiting for the trade.

Hope I don’t forget about that too.

I really don’t think companies understand how unbelievably lazy the average consumer has become. That rabid fanboy propping the direct market won’t provide the wind in those sails forever. You want to make things very easy for the casual reader. I’m not putting in more energy than a mouse click. And I’m not the only one.

Again, I can’t be the only one who thinks of stuff like this! Pre-orders, notifications—this is basic. Let’s go, people!