For everyone, by everyone.

Marking your own territory via the creation of a comic company is a scary venture in the world of publishing. In order to be successful, you must have one of two things: a “deep bench” filled with popular creators or a unique vision that separates you from the competition. Two weeks from now at the San Diego Comic Convention, we will witness the triumphant return of a familiar face in Valiant and the new debut of an African American-owned comic company in Lion Forge.

I am hoping for the success of both companies. The existence of the two publishers is key in diversifying the small professional pool in the comics industry. As I’ve said many times before, the comic characters of today and of our recent past are the myths of our future. They are the myths of today. Therefore, it is important that these myths accurately represent a plethora of people and cultures and are not limited to the skewed viewpoint that arises when only one group is granted the liberty of creating worlds (or just as vital, veto power over which worlds are granted longevity).

It is not about shoving a segment of characters of one particular shade onto a flat canvas and hoping for their acceptance. It is about depicting a rainbow of hues from multiple viewpoints. We have clearly surpassed the first hurdle, providing a colorful cast of characters with ease thanks to a long list of dedicated creators. At one point it seemed as though the second hurdle was far behind us, crossed during the creation of Milestone and Image. However, the diversity of talent discovered at all companies seemed to languish as titles slipped from print and creators vanished into the ether. During “lean” times, those who are less established in the industry—and often women and minorities are found in higher numbers in said category—tend to “fall through the cracks.” While there is no active attempt to curtail women and minority creators and deny them input, the result is still the same.

Luckily, we seem to be witnessing a creator renaissance at the moment. We are enjoying a focus on the creator as well as the character. This is likely due to the success of creator-owned properties such as The Walking Dead and Kick-Ass. In addition, comics overall are getting more press now that movies such as Marvel’s Avengers have shoved the superhero back into the spotlight. The chance is there to reach a wider audience than ever before. And what better way to reach said audience than to reflect it?

Are you experienced?

Misery loves company. In the world of comics, success loves company as well. No matter what one’s professional tie, one loves to see the industry thrive as a whole—as long as one has made it crystal clear exactly which company began thriving first.

Image’s Experience Creativity campaign has been a rousing success, and DC has plainly patterned itself to follow in those clearly marked footsteps, at first quietly with a series of photos on the DC website, followed by a well-documented promotional flurry for the San Diego Comic Convention. I’m fond of both campaigns. One, it is important to allow creators to promote themselves outside of their projects. It fosters good will. Two, putting faces to names illuminates the issues we still have regarding gender and racial diversity within the industry. Comic characters have gone far beyond four colors; comic creators still struggle to get beyond one.

Image, DC, and Valiant have been in full huckster-mode as of late, dominating the comic news cycle and flooding social media sources. Since I find the deluge amusing rather than annoying, they must be doing something right. Though, hilariously, it has not resulted in one sale on my end. My purchases from the companies in question were the result of quiet conversations with creators and company representatives at conventions. I think it makes the case that various marketing avenues and approaches are required.

The remaining publishers seem content to simply coast on the success of their brands outside of the industry (movies, video games, etc.) or settle comfortably into second place in the advertising race. This is not to say that companies such as Marvel and BOOM! aren’t producing quality work—they are. They just don’t seem to toot their horn with as much aplomb. However, I am certain all of that will change a mere two weeks from now.