Transcript Roundtable S2-Ep1: The diverse demographics of comics

This is a small, but deeply powerful part of a thoroughly wonderful

episode. I strongly encourage you to check out this series. It’s so good, and

pure, and wonderful, and restores my faith in humanity.


Roundtable: Re-Inventing Indie

Season 2, Ep1, on Project


Alpha

Jody Houser: Eisner

nominated comics writer, including “Faith.”
Spike Trotman: Comics creator,

owner of comics publisher Iron


Circus Comics.
Scott McCloud: comics creator, iconic

Understanding Comics.”


15:56 Jody:

“There have been so many new voices coming in, telling different types of

stories that I think a lot of those stereotypes are starting to get broken

down.”

Spike:

“Well, they have no choice now because the demographics of the comic

readership are changing, too. So, the justification, ‘Yeah, I can’t see an 19-39-year-old

white cis male enjoying this story,’ no longer exists.”

Jody: “And I

know a lot of guys who are very much in the core demographic who want those types of stories. And I think

it’s really insulting to say, ‘No, they will only read about people exactly

like them.’ You’re not only just marginalizing whole groups of society, you’re

insulting your main readership, and saying, ‘Oh, they don’t want to read about

woman,’ and meanwhile these guys are like, ‘I’ll totally read about women if

it’s a good story and a cool character.’ It’s weird; it hurts both sides.”

Spike: “And

it’s sort of in denial about what caused the major, almost seismological, shift

in comics readership to begin with. Which was a ton of woman crashing into comics like a tidal wave. The manga

wave! It was really important.”

Jody: “Like

the Kool-Aid man.”

Spike: “Yeah,

women were the Kool-Aid man going, ‘MAN-GA!’ That’s what happened!”

[Things that happened in the early 90s: Tokyo Pop cuts a

deal with Barnes and Nobel, Marvel goes bankrupt, first graphical interface web

browser.]

17:30 Scott:

“And so, you had this conference. You had, at the same time, the exact

same time, all these girls are discovering manga and sitting in Barnes and

Nobel reading it, and they’re all able to talk to each other, and now all of a

sudden, these barriers that had kept every genre but one, and every demographic

but one, as the dominant one, all of a sudden, things could come in through the

side door. And someone could just, on their own, start putting up stuff on the

web that didn’t look like what was on the market, and people could find it. And

all the barriers fell apart. All of the things that had kept that penned in in

that little tiny superhero, sweaty locker…”

Spike: “That

gatekeeper.”

Scott:

“Yeah. It just fell apart all at once.”

Spike: “Yeah, they were just walking around

the gatekeepers, and to this day they continue. It’s bizarre when people still

treat their interest, like comics especially, like a special club that you need

their permission to be into.”

Jody: “It’s

like they forged their whole identity around it, and anything that violates

what their view of comics is, they’re seeing it as a personal attack.”

20:52 Spike: “The

dismissing of manga, again I talked about this before, it was this sort of

utterly not thinking, lizard hind-brain defensive maneuver. It’s like, ‘No!

Comics is THIS! And comics will always be THIS because this is what I’m used

to, this is what it was when I was 13, and I’m 35 now, and I’ll be damned if it

changes!’ But the most important things that people who are into the

older-school of comics need to understand, is comics don’t belong to you. They have never just

belonged to you, and you do not exercise

control over what other people make, and

other people care about. And you

cannot gatekeep comics because you will be walked around and ignored.”

26:56 Spike:

“And for all the talk of, ‘Girls don’t read comics, and that’s why Minx

work,’ well motherfucker, I’m sorry, but you’re completely wrong. And I have

friends who can lovingly recount squatting in the hall of a Barnes and Nobel

while mom is shopping, speedreading ‘Fruits Basket’ because they could not afford 15 books, and that is the quintessential

young creators story now. And a lot of those creators are woman, so no, it’s

not that ‘woman don’t read comics,’ fucker, it’s ‘woman don’t read your comics,’ and that’s a problem for you to figure out.”

Jody:

“And the weird thing is, growing up, the only people I knew reading super

hero comics were girls. It was me and

my friends in middle school having fights in the hallway over X-Men trading

cards that almost got really bloody. … But the thing was, if you told me at

that point, ‘Boys don’t read superhero comics,’ I might have believed it

because I didn’t know any boys who did, I just knew a lot of girls who

did.”

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